Community – yearning, nostalgia and the desire for connection

Early work concerned with ‘community’

Those interested in the business of conceptualising community have long mapped the range and diversity of ways of thinking about and treating it. Social theorists from Aristotle to Durkheim, Weber, Marx, Simmel, Hillery, Elias, Friedman, Young, Garfinkel and Sacks (to name a few) have all usefully pointed out that community is many things to many people (see Wild 1981 and Mowbray 1985 for a detailed examination of the many uses of community). Indeed Hindess (cited in Malpas and Wickham 1998, p. 354) alleges that the most notable thing about reference to community in popular discourse is the difficulty of clarifying what one actually means by it. As Malpas and Wickham (1998, p. 354) claim, there is considerable arbitrariness when thinking about any community. Indeed those interested in the study of community are confronted with a massive range of competing and contrasting ideas about what it is.

(link to whole article – History of Community Development in WA)


A prefacing story: Ngapartji Ngapartji, the gift and kindness

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NgapartjiNgapartji kidswathcing-show-at-night1There was this beautiful thing that happened, a brief but difficult moment in the project when Trevor broke down during one of the early performances in Melbourne. It happened during one of the first seasons of the work and took cast and audience to a very emotional place, making a huge impression and and helping configure all future performances.

It was at the place in the script when he recounts the death of his grandmother. This is a very personal moment in the play, a moment when Trevor takes us with him to one of the most saddest places in his family’s history. It is done with enormous sensitivity and, on Trevor’s part, immense generosity.

This thing, this tender and touching little morsel in the history of an epic project seized us all. It happened during a time in the performance when he stood, centre stage, looking back to the rear at a screen where film footage recounts his father’s retelling of the death. In this piece of the film Trevor is sitting next to his Dad on a couch. He asks him to describe what had happened. Gently and, clearly pained, his father tells of how Tjamu (grandfather), a heroic figure who was much adored for helping rescue other Anangu from the dangers of the atomic tests, had killed his grandmother in a moment of rage.

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Introduction to Yiriman

The Yiriman Project, going back to country and bringing out stories across generations in the Kimberley.

Preface: Ned’s story

Yiriman3This is a story about many old people of the Kimberley. Ned is just one of them.

Ned is a Walmatjarri bloke who was ‘grown up’ by his senior people in the northern parts of Australia’s Great Sandy Desert). He now spends much time in Fitzroy Crossing, one of the six towns in the region.  This desert country is infamously inhospitalible to all but the most seasoned bush people. It is often raging in heat and humidity, extremely remote and uncompromising for newcomers. In addition, Ned has lost a leg so there are added challenges associated with being out bush.

Despite this, Ned loves returning to country. He is often the first one in the car on Yiriman trips. It is nothing for him to be sitting waiting in the front seat, instructing young people in the heat of the day or having a two-hour conversation at night when everyone else is exhausted. He is often the one to get up first thing, sing out for country, rally people and great get people to do things that demand discipline and hard work.

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Belmont Alternative Learning Centre

BelmontALC2One thing the Belmont ALC does is that it removes barriers to educational opportunity. It removes them for young people who have found it hard to overcome a variety of obstacles – things like family difficulties, poor attendance, being easily distracted, or finding it hard to keep up academically.  Sometimes these are barriers which have appeared in front of young people which are out of their control, sometimes they are barriers brought on by their own behaviour. Whatever the source, they are barriers that now need taking down with some else’s help. The ALC staff and program have become that help – whether through being a listener in times of family trouble, organising a referral to an outside agency, mentoring young people through work placements, or providing ongoing educational support. The ALC has helped clear a path towards a different future.

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